CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATOES IN YOGURT-CURRY SAUCE

At the risk of being repetitive, I must tell you this was a total winner and yes, it will go into our regular rotation. Other veggies can be used, like potatoes, green beans, butternut squash. The method won’t change. This side dish is rich and light at the same time. Contrary to most curries that rely on heavy cream or coconut milk, the yogurt offers just that amount of creaminess you might crave. Use full-fat yogurt to make sure the sauce won’t separate.

CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATO CURRY
(inspired by Chetna’s Healthy Indian)

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
1 medium size cauliflower, florets cut in small pieces
2 to 3 small sweet potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/3 cup tomato purée
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup full-fat yogurt

Heat 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a pan, add the cauliflower florets and sweet potatoes, a little sprinkle of salt, and cook on a medium-to-high heat until they start to brown. Remove to a bowl.

Add one more tablespoon of oil to the pan, heat and add cumin and ginger. Saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant. Immediately add the tomato pure, Sambal Oelek, coriander and salt. Stir and keep in medium-heat. Mix the yogurt with water in a small bowl, then add to the pan, together with the reserved veggies.

Cover the pan and and simmer for about 20 minutes. If the sauce is too liquid, remove the lid and reduce it a bit before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As I mentioned in the beginning, this recipe can be adapted to include many veggies. I would avoid zucchini because it would turn a bit too soft, although it could probably work if you roasted it and added in the very end.

The recipe was inspired by Chetna’s new book. Remember her from one of the greatest seasons of the Great British Bake Off? Chetna was often praised for her intuition with flavors. Her new book proves she is not only a great baker, but a fantastic cook. I got the idea of using yogurt as a base for the curry from one of her recipes. From her book I also recently made a delicious Tomato and Raisin Chutney.

It was my first time making chutney, and using this interesting ingredient called asafoetida. I loved it, and will definitely be making other chutneys in the future. Her book has quite a few options, all pretty unique.

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CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH OLIVE AND CAPER SALSA

Nothing irritates a true vegetarian more than giving names like “steak” to a veggie dish to make it more appealing. My apologies, I have no intention of ruffling feathers, it’s just not as sexy to call it “Cauliflower Slices.” I’ve made a version of it in the past, but this one is so much better that it almost makes me want to go back and delete that post. This is cauliflower steak done to perfection, and I thank my friend Eha for introducing it to me. It will go in our regular rotation. For sure.

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH OLIVE AND CAPER SALSA
(adapted from Cook Republic)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil

for the salsa:
60g pitted green olives
2 tablespoons baby capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
chopped fresh parsley to taste
20ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325FC. Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Place the cauliflower on a chopping board, resting on the stalk. Holding the head gently, slice the cauliflower into 5-6 thick slices (each about 1 inch wide).
Place the cauliflower slices on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the top with remaining olive oil.

Roast for 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425F. Roast for a further 15-20 minutes at this higher temperature till the cauliflower is starting to char and brown nicely. Remove from the oven and set aside.


Place all ingredients for the salsa in a small bowl. Whisk very well. Spoon prepared salsa over the cauliflower steaks. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper and chopped parsley.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: My only modification to the recipe was to reduce the amount of olive oil in the salsa and add lemon juice. For my taste, the olives add enough luscious fat, and the salsa tasted lighter and “brighter” with less oil and some extra acidity. Go with what rocks your own boat. Your kitchen, your rules.

What is wonderful about this recipe is the method to roast it. Lower temperature first, don’t mess with it, allow it to cook at a slow pace. Then increase the temperature and take it as far as you like. The salsa, cold and tangy, on top of that perfectly cooked slice of cauliflower? Perfection on a plate. I urge you to give this a try.

Eha, thanks so much for introducing me to this recipe in particular,
and to Cook Republic. I am following…

ONE YEAR AGO: Twice-Cooked Eggplant

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FROM MY HUSBAND TO YOU: ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY

Some veggies are so delicious that I tend to do as little as possible to prepare them, so they can shine on their own. But the other day the husband pulled an amazing dinner for us and the side dish blew my mind. Asparagus stir-fry that packed a ton of flavor and made us feel as if we were dining in a cool restaurant in Los Angeles. Just like we did during our sabbatical at UCLA years ago (it does feel like a previous life).  I insisted he should write a guest blog post about it, but he is quite busy wrapping up a review article, and food blogging is definitely not a distraction he needs. So, I did the altruistic, sensible thing, and composed the post myself. Because if you also have a soft spot for asparagus, you need this in your life…

ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY
(adapted from The Washington Post)

1 medium jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice,  divided
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
toasted sesame seeds

Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the jalapeno and olive oil, saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.  Add the asparagus. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus begins to brown around the edges, a couple of minutes more.

Add the soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is coated in sauce, but still firm, about 1 minute.

Add the lemon zest, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and the ginger. Toss to combine and cook, continuing to toss for 1 minute, or until ginger is fragrant. Remove the pan from heat. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve right away, perfect with grilled salmon.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Looking at our served meal, you could conclude we love sesame seeds. And you would be 100% correct. They do go well with salmon and perfect with asparagus. This is a very simple and quick dish to put together, and would complement many main dishes, from beef to poultry.  Serve these asparagus over polenta and you can call it a great, satisfying vegan meal…

I have to say I am pretty lucky to have a partner who cooks dinner for us every other day. I love to cook, but it would get a bit tiring to do it every single evening.  We have different styles, I am always trying new recipes, whereas he tends to stick to his favorites. But every once in a while he finds a recipe and jumps on it. Like this one. It was a fabulous meal…

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OMG SPINACH PIES

Staying safe in Corona virus time: read the guest blog post by Phillip Klebba here. A video summarizing important tips can be found here

SPINACH PIES… Please, do not run away from me, I cannot take it. Times are stressful, I need your company. Hate spinach? Hate anything green? Fear not, this was quite likely THE tastiest savory recipe I tried this year. I know, it’s just April, but it’s a year that feels like a lifetime passing by. I will ask you to steam a ton of spinach and you might be a bit annoyed by that step. But once that’s done, you are basically there. Ready to enjoy one amazing side dish or fancy brunch item. Locked inside with no guests? Fancy Brunch for Two. Go with the flow…

SPINACH PIES
(slightly modified from The Washington Post)

(5 to 6 tartlet pans, about 4.5 inches in diameter)

20 ounces fresh baby spinach, rinsed
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
10 ounces small-curd, low-fat cottage cheese
10 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Set a steamer basket above simmering water. Place half of the spinach in the steamer. Cover and steam until just wilted, then drain and coarsely chop. Press with paper towels to remove as much moisture from the spinach as possible, then transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining spinach.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease the tartlet pans, then arrange them on a baking sheet. Add the diced shallot to the spinach, along with the eggs, cottage cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pepper and nutmeg; stir to blend well. Divide evenly among the tartlet pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until browned on the edges and set in the center.

Wait 5 minutes before removing the little pies from the pans. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Credit should go for the husband who noticed the recipe in The Washington Post and sent me the link. It was part of an article on Irish cooking, published right around St Patrick’s Day.  We were so impressed by these pies, not only tasty the day I made them, but two days later, very gently warmed in a low oven. I normally don’t care for low-fat cottage cheese, but it worked perfectly in this preparation. If using low-fat goes against your principles, by all means grab the regular kind.

I used tartlet pans from Wilton that have a loose bottom, so it’s easy to push them out to serve. The original recipe mentioned you could make 6 tartlets, but using these pans I made only 5. The same type of filling could work well as a real tart, over a crust (like the olive oil crust of my recent past), but this version is as light as it is flavorful.

I hope you make these pies. It is possible that it would work well with frozen spinach, but I much prefer the brighter taste that you get once you steam it yourself and use right away.

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IVORY LENTILS, MY NEWFOUND LOVE

In May last  year I read a very interesting blog post by Mimi, in which she shared a Mediterranean salad recipe using Ivory Lentils. Are they white lentils? Well, not really. They are the center of a black bean found in India and known as “urad dal.” I was intrigued, and knew that at some point I had to amazon-it. Because, obviously, the chances of finding ivory lentils in our neck of the woods are essentially zero. Finally I can share my first adventure with this product. I absolutely loved them, but must warn you they do not taste anything like lentils. Or beans. They are quite unique and remind me more of a grain such as barley. Which is pure gastronomic joy in my book.

IVORY LENTILS WITH CHICKPEAS AND BLACK OLIVES
(inspired by Chef Mimi)

1 cup ivory lentils, soaked for 4 hours

for the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

for the veggies:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
olive oil to coat chickpeas
salt and smoked paprika to taste
2 celery ribs, diced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts marinated in oil
1/3 cup black kalamata olives, pitted
a few sundried tomatoes, sliced thin

After soaking the ivory lentils, cook them in a large volume of salted boiling water for about 20 minutes, until tender. Skim the surface every few minutes. Drain, and reserve to cool (if serving as a salad).

Roast or air-fry the chickpeas coated in olive oil and seasoned with salt and paprika.  Reserve.

Make a dressing whisking all the ingredients together. If the sundried tomatoes are too hard, let them soak in the dressing for a few minutes. If they are soft, simply mix them with the cooked lentils and all other ingredients.  Place in a serving bowl, and serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Some recipes do not call for soaking ivory lentils, but I decided to follow Mimi’s advice. I am glad I did, because they foamed a lot even after soaking for hours and changing the water for cooking. Maybe they cook fast enough without the soaking step, but if you have the time, do it.

This exact preparation would work very well warm, so consider skipping the cooling time and just mixing everything together as soon as the lentils are drained. Leftovers are equally tasty at room temperature or briefly warmed in the microwave.

I get so excited when I find a new ingredient to play with! I already have another recipe to try using these beautiful “lentils”, one that takes them in the direction of a flatbread… Intrigued? Stick around…

You can order and read more about ivory lentils with a click here.

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